WHY SHOULD THE KTM 250SXF WIN THE SHOOTOUT?
It should win because it makes the best overall power of all
the 250 four-strokes. Plus, it weighs the least, and has a hydraulic
clutch, incredible brakes and electric starting. It revs to 14,000
rpm and handles intuitively. It has plain bearings instead of
needle or ball bearings, an ingenious air filter and the best air
forks ever made. There are innovations on the 2017 KTM that the
Japanese brands will not get around to for at least four years.
WHY SHOULD THE 250SXF LOSE THE SHOOTOUT?
This is a total-commitment powerband. You either go for broke
or you come up bust. There’s no short-shifting in KTM City. The
2017 KTM 250SXF has no equal at full tilt, but if you are not ready
to fully commit, then you are not ready for the 250SXF. It is a Pro
powerband that isn’t well suited to Novice-level riders.
WHAT’S NEW ON THE 2017 KTM 250SXF?
The list is fairly straightforward. WP AER air forks replace last
year’s WP 4CS forks. The shock spring rate has been reduced from
45 N/m to 42 N/m. There is a new electronic map switch that
controls maps, launch control and traction control. The rear brake
pedal is 10mm longer. The top triple clamp is more rigid, and the
top bar mount is one piece.
WHAT DOES THE 250SXF WEIGH?
218 pounds. Amazingly, the KTM is the lightest 250cc four-stroke, yet, it has an electric starter and battery.
HOW DOES THE 250SXF RATE IN THE MAJOR
Power output: Excellent. KTM 250SXFs have always had
go-for-broke powerbands. As the 250SXF makes its peak horsepower ( 43. 79 horsepower) at the highest rpm the engine will turn
over, which means 14,000 rpm. If you shift before 14 grand, you
are leaving power on the table. The big plus of an engine that
revs so high is that you don’t have to shift very often because it
never stops pulling. If you are fast enough to live in the KTM’s
high-rpm stratosphere, this is the fastest bike you will ever race. If
you are slow, you might be even slower on the 250SXF. The key
to success is to resist the urge to shift up.
Suspension: Excellent. It is hard to believe that KTM could
turn its fork fortunes around in a single year, but it did. The WP
AER air forks first showed up in America on the 2016 Factory
Editions, and KTM’s test department took what they learned from
Factory Edition owners to re-valve the 2017 forks to perfection.
You can race these forks right off the showroom floor, and, as
a bonus, they make the rear shock and its new 42 N/m spring
work better too. While Showa and Kayaba made a mess of the
air-fork business, WP sat back and watched. Now that some of
the Japanese companies are wavering on continuing down the
air-fork road, KTM has built the simplest, easiest-to-use and most
race-worthy air forks on the market.
Handling: Excellent. Balance is the key to getting the most
out of this terrific chromoly steel chassis.
Brakes: Excellent. KTM’s Brembo brakes have embarrassed
the Japanese brands into going to big rotors, but big rotors are
only one third of a great brake system. KTM has all three aspects
covered; the Japanese brands haven’t worked out the caliper and
master cylinder interaction yet.
Clutch: Excellent. If you are a clutch abuser, the KTM can take
a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.
WHAT DO WE HATE ON THE 250SXF?
The sprocket bolts, spokes, plastic shock collar, tiny Torx bolts,
the sticking gas cap and the fact that you can’t remove the pipe
without removing the shock first make our hate list.
THE FINAL QUOTE?
“If you’re an aspiring Pro, then you’ve found your machine. It
already makes works-bike power, weighs less than you will at 40
years old, and has a whole cadre of features that the Japanese
brands might get around to in a few years. However, if you are a
Novice or a Vet, you need to look in the mirror and assess wheth-